Hamsters can go into shock following an injury, fall, or stressful situation. It’s important to understand the symptoms of shock so that you can aid your hamster’s recovery.
When a hamster’s in shock, warm it up by slowly massaging the body and put it in a dark, quiet location away from sudden or loud movements.
Shock and trauma can cause health problems, like stress and heart failure. Even if your hamster starts to feel better, take it to the vet to rule out injury and trauma.
How To Know If Your Hamster Is Traumatized?
As PLoS One explains, hamsters are prey animals, which means they’re vulnerable to shock and stress. Loud noises, dangerous pets, and mishandling can trigger a trauma response.
Hamsters can also fall off elevated surfaces while unsupervised in an exercise ball. Moreover, being in one is a stressful experience for hamsters because they can’t escape.
When a hamster undergoes shock or trauma, the body won’t receive enough blood or oxygen, causing significant physical and mental health problems.
While trauma symptoms vary between hamsters, the main signs to look out for include:
Hamsters that are in shock will appear limp or lifeless. This sometimes indicates injury, so limpness is a serious issue. Limpness occurs after a fall, indicating trauma or injury.
Hamsters in shock develop a dazed appearance as a result of trauma. The hamster will freeze and remain fixed for a significant time while trying to recover from the shock.
Low Body Temperature
When hamsters are in trauma and go into shock, their blood circulation becomes compromised, which causes the body temperature to drop.
As a result, the hamster will feel cold to the touch and may start shivering or appear shaky.
Hamsters naturally have a faster pulse than other animals, but this will increase the aftershock.
The pulse should return to a healthier rate once the initial shock wears off, but this is something you’ll need to monitor in case it remains high.
Shocked hamsters take shallow breaths in response to a traumatic experience. Again, your hamster’s breathing will return to normal once the shock wears off, but this may take some time.
A hamster will hide in its burrow and won’t emerge due to the fear it has developed from the shock.
You’ll need to keep an eye on your hamster to ensure it still manages to eat and drink, or it could become dehydrated.
Hamster Fell From 3 Feet
Whether you accidentally dropped your hamster, it jumped out of your hands, or it fell from a 3-foot height by itself, hamsters are prone to mishaps.
Falling from a height is one of the most common causes of shock.
Because hamsters are so small, they can easily hurt their delicate limbs. While hamsters are light enough to survive terminal velocity, a dodgy landing can cause an injury, particularly if the hamster lands on a hard surface without cushioning.
Even if your hamster manages to escape the fall unscathed, it’s likely to go into shock.
Companion Animal explains how hamsters hide pain to protect themselves from being picked off by predators. However, your hamster will display symptoms of shock through its heart rate and breathing.
Hamster Fell on Back
While many hamsters can correct themselves mid-air, there’s not always enough time between the fall and landing for them to do so. They risk injuries, shock, and trauma if they land on their back.
Whether your hamster experiences long-term spinal damage or not depends on the following:
- Landing position
- Floor’s surface
- Age and health
Check how your hamster moves around after the fall to ensure it’s not in pain, as moving difficulties suggest a severe injury.
Hamster Fell on Head
Brain injuries can cause similar symptoms to shock. However, unlike shock, your hamster may develop a head tilt or experience seizures. This signifies that your hamster has been severely injured from the fall.
It’s no surprise that a fall resulting in the hamster landing on its head isn’t only painful but a traumatic experience. Your hamster may become scared of being handled and hide in its burrows more often than usual.
You can build up your hamster’s confidence post-recovery, but you’ll need to move slowly to prevent further shock.
Can Hamsters Die from Shock?
Shock can be harmful to a hamster’s health. Shock is a significant cause of stress, which is well known to make pre-existing health conditions in hamsters, such as Tyzzer’s disease, far worse.
According to MSD Veterinary Manual, stress specifically precipitates the bacterium Clostridium piliforme, which is the bacteria related to Tyzzer’s disease. Over time, the condition causes painful liver lesions, eventually leading to liver failure.
Shock can also trigger heart attacks and, subsequently, heart failure. Stress and fear caused by trauma are common triggers and often result in secondary health issues.
Signs of heart failure include:
- Rapid breathing
- Respiratory distress
- Difficulty or irregular breathing
- Blue tint to the gums or skin
- Appetite loss
There’s no treatment for heart failure, and hamsters with the condition require lots of care and attention to make them more comfortable in the final stages of life.
However, while shock can cause death, many hamsters recover from the initial trauma and continue to lead healthy lives.
You’ll likely need to address the cause of the shock, though, especially if it regularly occurs in your hamster’s environment, such as loud noises or predatory pets.
Frequent episodes of shock will eventually result in more significant issues in the long run.
What To Do if Your Hamster Is in Shock
Once you’ve recognized the signs of shock, you’ll need to step in to aid its recovery. While your hamster will likely want to be left alone for a while, there are steps you can take:
Hamsters will recover sooner if they’re kept warm. Good methods for warming up a hamster include:
- Hot water bottle
- Heat lamp
- Putting the cage on a heating pad
Note that hamsters in shock may not want to be held, and they may also be injured. Check for injuries before handling your hamster, and wear gloves in the event of bites due to pain or irritability.
2/ Comfortable Place
A quiet place will help hamsters to calm down and de-elevate their heart rate. Ideal locations will be:
- No people or pets
3/ Physical Examination
Check your hamster for open wounds, bleeding, sprained muscles, or fractured bones. If you know your hamster has fallen or been involved in an altercation, injury is likely the cause.
4/ Treat Injuries
The two most common injuries that cause shock are:
If your hamster has any broken bones, it must be examined by a vet. Bones can heal on their own, but a vet will ensure that they don’t heal incorrectly or at a bent angle.
You’ll know that your hamster has broken a bone if its limbs are misaligned, or it’s unable to move. A broken bone is likely if the hamster reacts badly when you touch a certain limb or area of its body.
Broken bones aren’t life-threatening, but they require immediate treatment.
If a wound is bleeding, staunch it by applying firm pressure.
You can use toilet paper or gauze to soak up the blood. Once the blood has mostly clotted, you can use styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
Disinfect the wounds using a diluted antiseptic or salt and water solution. Unintentionally soaking a hamster’s coat can lower its body temperature.
For small wounds, apply the disinfectant with a cotton swab. For bigger wounds, use a syringe. Continue to apply the solution daily until there’s a scab.
If an infection occurs, antibiotics will be required to remove any swelling, redness, and pus.
5/ Keep It Company
According to Psychoneuroendocrinology, isolated Syrian hamsters had impaired wound healing due to stress. Even if a hamster is not injured, it needs less stress while recovering from the shock.
Keep your hamster company, as your presence is likely to aid recovery.
6/ Take To The Vet
Shock is only a medical emergency when accompanied by broken bones, bleeding, bacterial infection, or unconscious. Usually, a hamster will make a recovery on its own.